The School Resource Officer (SRO) program is a partnership between the Toronto Distrct School Board, the Toronto Catholic District School Board, and the Toronto Police Service (TPS). SROs work in partnership with students, teachers, school administrators, school boards, parents, other police officers and the community to establish and maintain a healthy and safe school community.
The program has several objectives:
Divisional Policing Support Unit—Youth Programs
The partnership with the school boards is a cooperative relationship.
This initiative started in 2008.
As a part of the overarching Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy, the TPS identified an opportunity to connect with youth in the schools. The TPS was able to utilize provincial grant funding aimed at addressing ncreased gun violence in the city of Toronto.
Set-up involved only soft costs. Most if not all schools provided office space, a desk and often a telephone line and/or Internet connection.
In early 2008, Chief William Blair approached the school boards about implementing a School Resource Officer program in schools. Provincial funding permitted 30 officers to be assigned to 30 Toronto high schools. The schools were selected by the school boards and only those schools willing to participate saw inclusion in the program.
Two evaluations of the program have been completed, in 2009 and 2011.The evaluations suggest that the SROs had an overall positive effect in schools, and in particular a positive effect on students who talked to, and felt comforatable talking to, their SRO.The program has met its key objectives and continues to make improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness through continued communications and training between TPS and the school boards.
In the absence of a communications strategy, the individual schools chose to communicate the presence of police to students and families in their own formats.
The SRO program continues to show positive results, particularly in the inceased willingness of students to report crime when they have interacted informally with the officer and in the decrease in weapons offences in and around schools.The program shows the potential to be increasingly beneficial in crime prevention/reporting and relationship building, especially beween police and students, and in helping to keep weapons away from schools.
When this program was first presented, it was a new initiative that was implemented to address several serious issues that were affecting schools, and students' perceptions of police.
For further information please contact Divisional Policing Support Unit- S/Sgt. Ronald Khan or PC Jennifer Nantais. A full copy of the evaluation can be provided if required for further detail.